Last Updated on December 18, 2022
For me Christmas stockings have always been used for small, cheaper items, Father Christmas/Santa never brought me the higher priced presents. In this post I share 25 stocking stuffers for travelers that are actually useful. The majority of these items end up on my packing lists for EVERY trip without fail! Being female myself, most are aimed at female travelers.
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Travel Stocking Stuffers
1. Folding Hairbrush
Hairbrushes can often be quite big and bulky, but folding hairbrushes are great for travel! The bristles fold up into themselves, then the handle acts as a cover. My hairbrush even has a mirror built into the handle. This may not work for all hair types. My hair is quite thick and wavy but it works good enough for me. Space saving and weight are most important for me, so I don’t expect them to work as well as a full-sized counterpart.
2. Folding Toothbrush
At home I use an electric toothbrush, but when I travel I use a regular folding one. When it folds, it makes the toothbrush half the size of a normal one and the handle then becomes a protective case to cover the bristles. I always try to make sure my toothbrush is dry before I fold it up.
3. Travel-sized Toothpaste
Leading on from toothbrushes, travel-sized toothpaste is also handy! Unless you’re travelling long term, the chances are you aren’t going to need a full sized toothpaste during a trip! For other toiletries and skin care, I reuse smaller bottles. For example I have a 100m suncream bottle. Instead of buying lots of small products, that are often expensive, I buy a large suncream and then squeeze it into the smaller bottle to travel with.
4. Hand Sanitiser
Especially now, hand sanitiser can be a helpful travel item. You can get small ones that are credit card sized, or ones on clips that are great for carrying around and using before eating. It also gets you out of a pickle if public toilets run out of soap or you eat a dripping ice cream that gets all over your hands!
5. SPF Lip Balm
I find that my lips ALWAYS dry out when I travel. Whether it’s on a flight or while in a hot country, I always make sure I travel with lip balm/chap stick. Many lip balms have SPF in them. which is an added bonus!
6. Solid Shampoo
When travelling with hand luggage only, I way to get around the liquid restrictions is to turn to solid toiletries! Solid shampoo bars last forever and actually bubble up quite nicely. I have had a couple from Lush and you can buy a tin to keep it in. Similar to the toothbrush, make sure the bar is dry before it goes into the tin, otherwise it gets stuck and is hard to get out again!
7. Perfume Atomiser
Rather than taking a big bottle of perfume on a trip, an atomiser is a great little gadget to have on your packing list. You remove the top off of the perfume bottle and then squirt it into a hole on the bottom of the atomiser. There is a level on the side so you can see how full it is.
8. 20x20cm/quart sized Liquids Bag
Instead of using a ziplock bag, I have a reusable 20x20cm liquid bag that I use when travelling with hand luggage. It’s made of thicker plastic and has a proper zip on the top. I use it a bit like a wash bag and simply put it in the bathroom when I get to my hotel room! It is said that liquid restrictions may be going by 2024 but I will probably continue to use this as it works well for me.
*Some UK airports will reject bags with a ‘depth’*
9. TSA Combination Padlocks
TSA padlocks have a diamond icon on them. Especially when travelling to or from the USA, this symbol shows that it can be opened with a special tool, rather than the need for it to be cut off. I use them on both suitcases and backpacks. Even if the suitcase comes with a built-in lock, if security happen to want to open it, they may end up cutting the zip rather than a padlock that can be easily replaced.
10. Mini Sewing Kit
I split my shorts while travelling in Australia. I went into Brisbane train station and brought a teenie tiny sewing kit which I’ve used multiple times on my travels to fix various things, from clothes to bags! I takes up next to no room in my bag but it’s there if I happen to need it!
11. Travel First Aid Kit
Similar to the sewing kit, I have a little zip pouch/coin purse that I top up with mainly bubble sheets of the medication I find I use the most (Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, anti-histamines, sinus decongestants etc).
I found while living in the USA a lot general painkillers would come in pots, which took up space and would rattle about in my bag (I would stuff the bottle with tissue!). The bubble sheets are flat and easy to slide into a pocket. I also carry things like plasters/band aids…I’m clumsy and ALWAYS end up needing them! (This first aid kit has a mini sewing kit in it too!)
You can never have too many pens! Most things has gone digital now, but it’s always helpful to travel with a couple of pens. Some countries still have written arrival and departure cards (such as Zanzibar for example) and sometimes I leave notes for housekeeping etc.
Another reason I like to travel with pens is because I keep a written journal. You can buy some really fancy travel journals but I find just a similar pocket notepad is all I want/need. Something that’s just big enough to write down my thoughts and document where I’ve been each day. It’s part of my travel routine now and they are great to look back on.
14. Waterproof Pouch
As a solo traveller, it can often be a pain when it comes to knowing what to do with your things if you want to go swimming or when at the beach. I have a little waterproof pouch that I put my room key/car key in etc and then I can keep it on my body. I tend to wear a rash vest and board shorts so I either wear it under my rash vest or around my middle and then tuck it into my shorts.
15. Collapsable Water Bottle
I tried a collapsable silicone water bottle (by Samsonite so it wasn’t cheap!) and I didn’t like it. I found it went a bit gross and was hard to clean inside. Instead I have a plastic one that I picked up on a market stall in Sydney which I LOVE! When it’s empty, it is almost completely flat. When it’s full it actually holds quite a lot of water!
16. Reusable Shopping Bag
A reusable shopping bag is always handy to chuck in your bag! If you go to a local supermarket then you can use it for shopping, it can be used a beach bag, a way of organising things in your room (such as dirty washing). It has multiple uses! The ones that fold up into a pocket sized pouch are the best ones to get!
17. Gadget Pouch
Instead of using large packing cubes, I prefer to separate my things into smaller organisational pouches. Even something like a pencil case can be great for keeping leads and cables together. It saves them from getting tangled and you don’t need to dig around in your bag to try and find them.
18. Pura Vida Bracelets
I have been wearing Pura Vida Bracelets for years. As an adventure traveller, wearing standard jewellery just doesn’t work for me. Pura Vida Bracelets are super strong and last for ages. They are wax coated so hold up well in water too. The bracelets comes in a huge range of colours and some have ‘charms’ on. I wear an anklet, 3 multi-coloured ones and a black one with a wave charm. Once they are on, I never take them off!
As phone cameras have got better over the years, I find myself using my phone for travel photos a lot more now. There are a couple of types of ‘pop sockets’, I’ve had both the pop up ones and a ring one. I currently use a ring one and my phone does feel a little more secure, if someone was to try and rip it out of my hand, they would likely rip my finger off too! The pop out ones are great for holding as well as acting as a stand if use your phone to watch videos etc too.
20, Foreign Snacks
When people ask what I want for birthday or Christmas I always say foreign snacks! I love browsing shops when I’m in a different country and seeing products that I’m not used to seeing. Many supermarkets will have a world food aisle or you may be able to find a whole store aimed at different communities. (In my hometown in the UK, we have: Romanian, Polish, Asian, Caribbean, Greek, Italian and USA small businesses stocking food items!). Alternatively places like Amazon have many options, such as Japan snack packs!
21. 6ft Phone Cable
This one requires a bit of research depending on the receivers phone. But I LOVE 6ft charging cables especially when I travel. As standard, when you buy a phone, you usually get a 3ft cable. Having a cable twice the length can help when power outlets are in inconvenient places in hotel rooms. The nylon braided ones help make the cable more robust for travel too!
High Ticket Items
If you are after a couple of items that have a slightly higher value (but are still small in size!), here are a couple of travel stocking stuffer ideas that are slightly more expensive but are still reasonably priced.
22, Worldwide Travel Adapter
I love my worldwide travel adapter. It has 4 configurations that can be categorised as: UK, US, EU and Australia. Almost all countries in the world will use one of these configurations. As well as having a plug socket, it has 4 USB ports which is great for charging gadgets such as phones and cameras. Instead of taking the individual bulky plugs, you then only need to pack the cable. If a room has limited power outlets, you can then charge a couple of things at once.
23, Power Bank
I find that now I use my phone more while travelling (for photos, maps, boarding passes, entrance tickets etc), the battery often doesn’t last a full day. A smaller power bank will often be enough for one full charge but you can buy larger ones that will give 2 or 3 chargers before it needs charging itself. It saves having to try and find a power outlet in an airport when you’re in need of your mobile boarding pass! Anker and TCore are two good brands.
24. SanDisk Memory Cards
Although a lot of people tend to use mobile phones for travel photography now, I still like to travel with a proper camera. I find phones just don’t do zoom as well as a camera! There have been many Christmas’ where I have asked for memory cards! I love the SanDisk brand of memory cards. My main camera uses the regular cards but my GoPro uses the micro ones.
25. AirTag/Tile Trackers
I rarely travel with a suitcase, but this is a great gadget for those that check a bag, which many travellers highly recommend. There are several brands, AirTag is the Apple version, but you pair it with your phone and then hide it in your luggage. If your suitcase happens to go missing on route (which happens quite frequently recently), you are able to track the bag and see where it is!
If you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute, many of these travel stocking stuffers can be found in local supermarkets/grocery stores (in the US, places like Target have a travel section)! Obviously every traveller is different, so hopefully you’ll find something on this list that may be useful!
As mentioned, I personally use 24 out of the 25 for all of my trips!
Looking For Larger Travel Gifts?
I love Cabin Max backpacks for cabin baggage!